FIND A CHARTER SCHOOL
New Jersey's public charter schools are providing high-quality educational options to parents and students all over the state. With a variety of different focus areas -- including STEM/STEAM, performing arts, environmental stewardship, leadership, community service, and more -- there are plenty of innovative schools to choose from.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools run by non-profit organizations open to all students regardless of zip code, race/ethnicity or ability level. Charter schools operate with more flexibility than traditional public schools in exchange for increased accountability and high financial, academic and managerial standards by an authorizer. A “charter” is a contract with an authorizer detailing the school’s mission, program, performance goals and methods of assessments. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Education serves as the sole authorizer and oversees all public charter schools in the state.
There are currently 88 charter schools serving 54,500 students in 40 cities and 18 counties throughout New Jersey. (Check out the most recent Charter School Fact Sheet.)
Public charter schools are:
- Publicly-funded, tuition-free and open to all students
- Authorized by the Commissioner of Education (NJDOE)
- Run on four to five-year performance contracts
- Governed by an independent non-profit board of trustees
- Subject to state laws related to health, safety, civil rights, certification, academic standards, and student assessment
- Able to use increased autonomy and innovative teaching methods to meet the needs of all students
Read NJPCSA’s 20-Year Charter Report to see the amazing results charters are getting for kids! Go to NJDOE’s Office of Charter Schools’ website to learn more about charter authorization.
Myth 1: Charter schools take money from traditional district schools
Our public-school resources do not belong to any particular kind of school, they belong to our kids. The purpose of the public-school system is to give every child a chance for a great education and that is exactly what charter public schools do. When charter schools meet the individual needs of students, they are strengthening families, communities and the public-school system. In NJ, public school funding follows the student, thus funding goes to the public school that families choose for their child, including traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter public schools, or renaissance schools. Families with the financial means may also choose to send their child to a private school and yet these families are not scrutinized for exercising their right to find the right school for their child. Charter schools, on average, receive less funding per student than traditional public schools and responsible for their paying for and maintaining their own facilities.
Myth 2: Charter schools do not educate all children and select students based on ability
Charter schools are open to all students regardless of zip code, income, race/ethnicity or ability level. We have no admission tests or special entrance requirements. In NJ, charter schools educate a nearly twice the rate of economically disadvantaged students and a comparable rate of students with disabilities as traditional district schools. In Newark and Camden, many charter schools participate in Common Enrollment systems used by the school district.
Myth 3: Charter schools lack accountability
Charter schools are given greater flexibility than traditional district schools, but with that flexibility comes greater accountability through annual oversight visits and required reporting. All charter schools are required to provide financial reports to their authorizers and must meet all state and federal education standards. If they do not, they will not be renewed at the end of their charter term and the school will close. As nonprofit organizations there are also reporting requirement such as an annual audit. Charter schools must renew their charter every five years and receive approval to continue to educate students. The passionate and dedicated teachers at our schools are required to have the same teaching credentials as teachers at any other public school. Millions of kids across our country, and tens of thousands in our state, are getting a great public education at charter schools. But when charter schools fall short of the high standards we set for them, they must be held accountable.
Myth 4: Charter schools are privatizing public education (and fulfilling billionaire agendas)
All charter schools in NJ are public schools open to any child, and free of charge. Charter schools in NJ are all non-profit organizations. The majority of funding for charter schools comes from federal, state and local tax dollars. As with all public schools, charter schools fundraise from a variety of sources such as families at the school, local businesses and foundations. We are grateful for all of the support that our charter schools receive in order to educate children.
The Charter School Program Act of 1995 (P.L. 1995 c. 426, N.J.S.A. 18A:36A), effective January 11, 1996, authorizes the Commissioner of Education to establish a charter school program.
New Jersey Administrative Code, Charter Schools, (N.J.A.C. 6A:11) provides the state regulations to implement the Charter School Program Act of 1995.
Charter Schools are subject to the Fiscal Accountability, Efficiency, and Budgeting Procedures as described in New Jersey Administrative Code, Charter Schools, (N.J.A.C. 6A:23A). From an accounting and funding standpoint, chapters 15 (State Aid Calculations and Aid Adjustments for Charter Schools), 16 (Double-Entry Bookkeeping and GAAP Accounting), and 22 (Financial Operations of Charter Schools) in N.J.A.C. 6A:23A are particularly applicable for charter schools.